Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Swamp Milkweed

I had a request for fewer spiders and snakes and more flowers, so when I saw this Swamp Milkweed, Asclepias incarnata, I figured the soft pastels of the bloom would certainly satisfy anyone’s flower cravings. I try to provide a mix of subjects in my posts, but I don’t post any photos more than seven days old and that means I’m always limited to what I’ve recently seen and managed to capture with my camera. Besides, I like spiders and snakes and most everything else I find outside. But today we’re looking at a flower and I’m not even going to mention the insects crawling upon and within the blooms.

When you read descriptions of milkweed flowers, you’ll see the terms Hood and Horn which refer to some specially shaped flower parts. The hoods are the cup shaped affairs that look like wall sconces and the horns are the curved tapering candle-like things coming from the hoods. The shapes of hood and horn help to identify the plant to species. It looks to me like the horns are trying to protect an iced cupcake in the center of the flower.

Swamp Milkweed always has a light, airy appearance. I don’t know which milkweed species would win the prize for most attractive flower. It always seems to me that the prettiest milkweed is the one that happens to be in front of me at the time.

You might wonder how any plant with the term swamp in its name could survive the super dry conditions normally found at Blue Jay Barrens. Swamp Milkweeds need plenty of water and in this area that means the creek.

This plant is growing right out of the creek bottom. This section of the creek normally dries up during the summer, but there’s always a little bit of water left down beneath the rocks. The abundant rainfall this year has allowed the creek to maintain its moisture longer than normal into the summer.

It doesn’t look like the plant has a very secure hold on the ground. That’s quite a mass of roots exposed to the air. The dead stalks from the previous year’s growth show that this is an older plant, but the creek bed may not be the best place for a long term existence. Perhaps this plant will produce enough seeds to get a patch of Swamp Milkweed growing on the more stable creek bank.


  1. Who can resist the milkweed genus?

    Just curious, why do you have a 7-day age limit for the photos you post?

  2. Ted - I've had a lot of people ask me about the 7 day limit. Since most people would probably miss the answer if I posted it in these comments, I'll do a post on it this weekend.